Garden And Gardener

Everything for the Gardener and their Garden

Taking on an allotment

by Diane - May 7th, 2013.
Filed under: allotment.

Cover up unused soil so the weeds don't spreadWhen you finally get to the top of the allotment waiting list you’ll get your allotment. You’ll be so excited about it but faced with the reality of an overgrown plot you’ll suddenly get scared! What have you got? A huge space full of weeds to sort out. It can be very daunting, but don’t worry!

You don’t have to dig the whole plot straight away and remove every last weed. Many sites have cultivation rules to ensure plots are tended. Most will be lenient with new plot holders on overgrown plots but it’d be nice to be able to make a different straight away.

One of the best techniques for dealing with a new plot is to cover as much of the surface as possible. You can use weed fabric, cardboard, layers of newspaper, plastic,

Where to get the cardboard: supermarkets can be a great source of cardboard. Contact the night shift managers who’ll be busy dealing with the overnight shelf stacking and you’ll almost certainly be able to get a pile of the stuff in big sheets. Weight it down either with rocks or more usefully by throwing some soil over the ground.

Break the plot down into sections. If you’re lucky then you’ll have beds and pathways in already. Some people see these as a hindrance and want to rearrange the plot entirely.
You might have plants in already, don’t cover these up. If you have rhubarb or fruit bushes then make these a priority to weed and feed. You’ll get a crop from these this year so it’s worth tidying them up. Getting plants growing and a crop from your plot will make all the work seem worth while.

Target the easy bits first – weed around the existing plants you’re going to be keeping.
This makes it look like you’re working hard. Once you’ve covered the rest of the plot you can uncover a part of it and weed and dig or you could go for the no dig gardening method which is certainly easier on your back.

No dig gardening videos

No Dig potatoes – a great video showing just how easy no dig is!

No Dig Bed Construction in 30 Minutes – he’s building this at the start of May to show it’s never too late to start planting! He uses a layer of soaked cardboard on the bottom to suppress weeds, manure, grass clippings, calcified seaweed, wilted nettles, paper shreddings,old growbags and compost. Topping off the bed with compost means you can plant into it straight away.

This is an easy to follow guide to making a layered bed the no dig way. It’s basically lasange gardening using materials most people should be able to find most of. The nettles is an interesting one – he touches on the fact they’re important for ladybird. This is because they’re home to the first aphids of the season which means the ladybirds also get off to a quick start. Just think about that before tearing down all the nettles in the garden! Whilst they’re prickly and not nice if you touch them they are useful for wildlife as they’re also home to caterpillars and useful for making a tea from for feeding up plants. Nettles have strong roots which reach down and pull up loads of nutrients and create plenty of nitrogen rich top growth which can be cropped periodically.

A youtube channel I watch quite often is and he’s got an interview about the No-dig method with Charles Dowding